To start things off with a little history lesson, how did the band start and how did the band name come about?
We started in 1999, I met our old guitar player Tony Angelov through an ad in a music store, through him I met Joe, and through Joe everyone else. I came up with the band name when I was pretty young, sixteen I think. I took Azazel from a book on mythology or demons or some such, I liked that he was supposedly the entity that taught men the art of war and women the art of beautification. I suppose the Dawn part was to make it more grandiose. This was 1996 and I was listening to a lot of the first wave of Norwegian black metal at the time.
What bands would you consider to be a great influence?
That's a hard question to answer at this stage of the game man. It's definitely changed over the years and for all of us its going to be different but I would definitely say some of the core ones for myself and Joe who write the riffs were Morbid Angel, Immolation, Incantation, Angelcorpse, Hate Eternal, Suffocation, Deicide, Cryptopsy, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Today is the Day when we first started out. For me it was also Conqueror, Order From Chaos, Blasphemy, Sarcofago, Emperor, Mayhem, Burzum. Nowadays I'd say that you could tack on Satyricon, Gojira, Disgorge, Deathspell Omega, Krisiun, and for myself Tryptikon, Paysage D'Hiver, Methadrone, Lycia and Mithras have been particularly inspiring as of late.
Since you started in 1999, did you see the metal scene change?
Without a doubt. From the perspective of someone who remembers tape trading and photocopied fanzines the Internet in some ways made it easier for a band like us that is so geographically isolated. What has been especially visible since around 2010 is how hard it is now to make an impression, create a cohesive sense of community and get people to actively take an interest in what you are doing with the myriad of distractions out there. Although things have become much more impossible financially I think it is a good development, the bands that are around now, and most importantly the ones that will still be here in 5 or 10 years are doing it for the right reasons.
There was a six year gap between your previous album 'Relentless' and the new record. What was the reason for the break and how did it feel to return to the writing and recording process ?
Basically I took up a position in my old job with the police in an area where I couldn't really be in the public eye. That was around three years or so, and then there was the delays with getting the new material written, recorded and released. It was actually really good taking a break man, like with most bands every album previous had been heavily influenced by the touring, the experiences and the momentum that you had on the previous album. This was almost like starting afresh and it took us a little while to figure out just where we were and what we were about in 2015. I'm very happy with the result though.
There seem to be more influences on this album, making it more of an adventure to listen to. How did you change the way of writing the new songs compared to earlier albums?
Thanks, although I wouldn't necessarily agree that is the case over all our releases, I'd certainly agree that it was that way compared to 'Relentless'. On 'Relentless' we intentionally wanted to make things a little more stripped back and to the point. As I mentioned above this album was coming from a clean slate, but amusingly enough it was also the first time we did proper preproduction and song writing using Pro-tools etc. Previously we had just done things old school, showed up with riffs and jammed them out in the rehearsal room. Using a computer made the process much more streamlined and efficient.
With today's technologies that are available to anyone at anytime, would it not be more rewarding financially to be releasing the albums by yourself?
Well that's part of why we did it, not that we really expect a significant increase in financial reward. Postage to most of the world from here is very expensive and that makes it hard to keep things at a competitive price and still make a little money. All of our previous labels owe us thousands of dollars and in my opinion have done little for us, especially considering the tools that are available to us today. We're not completely against working with a label in the future I just don't see that the traditional arrangement that most labels offer is significantly better than what we can do for ourselves, especially considering that it involves giving up control of your music.
What was your main influence when writing the lyrics for the new album?
Primarily the experience of the last few years working the role I was talking about above. All our albums have kind of had that underlying theme of almost bombastic will to power, intensity and aggression. Working with some individuals who were pretty strong in those areas in one sense certainly gave me insight into some of the downsides, the paranoia, self sabotaging tension and things like that. In that sense they are of the same theme as past albums but a little more jaded or self aware.
How do you see internet, just as a tool to spread the name of Dawn Of Azazel or also as a means to enhance sales?
I think if you see music in terms of financial return you have the wrong end of the stick. I don't care about sales, there's plenty of ways to make money out there. What music alone can offer is a way to connect, influence and enhance the life of other people. Therefore I see the internet as a boon as it increases our ability to achieve those things.
New Zealand has brought us some really great extreme metal bands. How would you describe the scene in New Zealand, what makes it different from the US or Europe?
Obviously it is a lot smaller, shows involving your favorite bands are rare and there are few opportunities to network and spread your message. The distance and cost involved in taking your band to the level where you release albums and tour internationally are a very significant barrier to most. I think that difficulty and isolation is also good in that it ensures that those who do go that far are far more serious and dedicated than bands of a similar level in the northern hemisphere.
Finally, can you describe Dawn Of Azazel in just a few words and in a way that would convince even the pope to listen to your music?
The pope? How about it sounds like the impassioned whimpering of a pre-pubescent boy...